Thank you for the most amazing journey over the last 10 years.
I got a notification somewhere and it said 10 years ago I wrote my first post on this blog. This was all an experiment – I had finished by MBA, I had to create an online persona as part of my first digital marketing qualification from NYU and I had to choose a topic I loved. So it seemed quite straightforward as I kept emailed with restaurant and travel ideas that friends kept asking for.
However, when I started the blog and registered the domain, I thought a handful of people would read it (and was quite happy with it). Never ever in my wildest dreams did I think that so many likeminded travellers would find the blog, use it as prep or inspiration for their trips and along the way, I would actually get more than a handful of real life and online friends.
So far, we are talking over 4 million page views – and not for a ‘mass market’ audience because of course there are less people interested in what I do or the way that I travel at this budget (so yes, numbers mean nothing).
I wanted to take this time to say yay me, but also to say a huge thank you to every single one of you who reads the blog, keeps me company on social media and even says yes to get my monthly email.
I also want to say a big thank you to all the brands and destinations who have also trusted me to represent them – the collection is a reflection of me as a consumer, which is what we all are, at the end of the day. I never thought I could turn this experiment into a business (which obviously suffered during the Covid times) – but I also have evidence that it is turning around.
Why? Because we haven’t lost faith and we are slowly beginning to travel again.
Most of my trips this year have been organised by a travel agent. Why? Because things are quite ‘unsteady’ and I want and need someone to hold my hand. Someone who knows first hand how hotels are performing, someone who can pick up the pieces if anything goes wrong. Someone who isn’t a call centre and makes me queue and wait. Someone who knows what they are doing.
The person who has held my (and my family’s) hand the most has been Sarah Ives, a boutique luxury travel designer, who is originally from the USA and is based in London. No details escape her, no upgrade requests are ignored by hotels – and her rates and perks have been unmatched. You see, the internet cannot upgrade you, but Sarah can.
So as I planned this blog birthday thank you, it was wonderful to have Sarah onboard as a partner on this giveaway. Why? Because quite a few of you have booked trips with her when I mentioned her on my social media over the last year and guess what? She would like even more readers to use her services.
So together with Sarah, we have rounded up 10 luxury hotel experiences that we would like 10 readers from around the world to enjoy. You may choose to extend your stay, and if you do, Sarah will help you get the best rates and service, as booking with her always comes with perks (from room upgrades, to hotel credit, late check in and out and a few more bits, which you will find below).
Without further ado, here are the luxury hotel stays we have selected for you (and a big thank you to each hotel who has donated the stays – and I know many are fully booked for next year, so please note that blackout dates apply).
They are in alphabetical order, just so there are no fights!
Blue Palace, Crete, Greece
Winners will receive a two-night stay for two at Blue Palace, a Luxury Collection Resort, Elounda, Crete in a Superior Bungalow with view to the breathtaking gulf of Elounda. A private breakfast experience and a personalized beach experience – part of The Haven Collection, is also offered, treating you to a good dose of traditional Cretan hospitality
Boschendal, South Africa
Boschendal is the perfect base for families to explore the Western Cape. Their collection of luxury farm cottages are ideal for families. Ranging from one to four bedrooms, all equipped with kitchenettes, outdoor dining areas for braais, a large communal swimming pool and a magnificent setting among the Boschendal fruit orchards. Their complimentary Tree House activity centre offers children aged 4 to 14 years a chance to connect with a truly authentic farm and forest experience while also learning about the importance of sustainability.
On offer is a 2-night stay at one of their wonderful cottages, including breakfast.
Chedi Muscat, Oman
Oman is the Middle East’s best kept secret, beautiful rugged mountains, blazing remote deserts and rich cultural experiences. Don’t miss dolphin watching in the Gulf of Oman, or a visit to the spa (one of the largest in Muscat).
D Resort Gocek, Turkey
We have now visited this delightful hotel twice, and are booked in again for next Summer. Located in the seaside town of Gocek, the D Resort has a beautiful private beach and marina which you will not forget in a hurry.
Open all-year round, this is the perfect destination for off-season sunshine and the spa is not to be missed for wellness getaways. A perfect getaway for a group of friends, couples and families.
The hotel is delighted to welcome the lucky winner for 2 nights, including breakfast.
Dar Zemora, Marrakesh
Dar Zemora is a beautiful countryside boutique hotel located in the spacious grounds of the Palmeraie away from the mayhem of the Medina (but close enough for a hop whenever you wish). With a heated pool and a spa with a traditional hammam, plus the knowledgeable team to arrange your experiences, there is something for everyone here.
This oasis of tranquility is looking forward to welcome our winner for 2 nights, including breakfast.
Finca Cortesin, Spain
Finca Cortesin is my favourite hotel in the world and I really want someone else to discover its delights as it is truly wonderful. Located between Marbella and Sotogrande, it is perfect for adults, families and golf lovers alike. But really quiet ones as it really is a place to get away from it all. You can read my review here (I have since returned at least 10 times)
Finca Cortesin is offering a night at one of their suites, with breakfast included.
Four Seasons London at Park Lane and Four Seasons Hampshire
Four Seasons Hotel London at Park Lane (which I reviewed here) is giving readers a choice (which I think may be amazing). They are offering a lucky reader either a 2 night stay at their Park Lane hotel, or a night in London followed by a night at the newly redesigned Four Seasons Hotel Hampshire country hotel (which I also reviewed here), which would allow you to have a city to country stay, which is quite unique.
Haritha Villas & Spa, Sri Lanka
Perched on a hill and nestled under a canopy of trees, Haritha Villas is one of Sarah’s favourite places in the world and it is easy to see why. Although very close to a beautiful stretch of beach, some guests choose to never leave.
At this 9-bedroomed luxury boutique hotel, guests can discover the benefits of Ayurveda, with tailor-made holistic wellness programmes specially curated by the resort’s two resident Ayurvedic doctors.
This adults-only hotel will welcome a winner for 2 nights including breakfast.
Il Palazzo Experimental, Venice, Italy
Saint James, Paris
One of Paris’ best kept secrets, the Saint James has emerged from a beautiful renovation and I am booked in to return (I reviewed the hotel a few years ago). What could be better than a chateau in the heart of the city located on the right bank’s 16th arrondissment with easy access to all of the main attractions?
Part chateau, part family estate, you will be staying for 2 nights (including breakfast) at this very exclusive address on Paris’ 16eme.
Vila Monte, Portugal
I almost held my wedding at Vila Monte, in the Algarve (12 years ago!). We then decided to hold it in Lisbon but it tells you how special it was. It is also a hotel I want to see following its renovation and maybe one reader can let me know what they think?
What sets Vila Monte apart from the rest is the level of service and the excellent concierge team who can arrange for some incredible experiences around the Algarve, such as horse riding in the countryside, salt harvesting for Flor de Sal, sailing charters along the Ria Formosa or on board a solar drifter and so much more. This is a great hotel for couples and families/ multi-generational families alike.
Vila Monte is offering two nights stay, with breakfast included.
And some delightful extras
When you book a holiday with Sarah Ives, it comes with a very personal touch. So depending on where you go (and the length of your booking of course), no travel pouches will come your way. But what does? Some very thoughtful and useful gifts.
Saltee Sun Protection
Sarah introduced me to Saltee and its fantastic (almost cult-like) sunscreen range which includes everything you need for your next sunny getaway – a Tan Enhance Formula 200ml, a soothing and calming body and face after-sun formula that works to prolong a healthy glow, our best-selling SPF30 Body Sea & Sun Lotion 150ml. Formulated with velvety soft, ultra-high UVA and UVB protection that smells wonderfully like summer holidays. Plus, SPF50 Face Sea & Sun Formula 50ml which includes Cucumber extract to cool and soothe leaving your skin protected, hydrated and nourished.
And despite knowing Bramley myself, I didn’t know they did these fabulous travel sets – for adults and for little ones.
Bramley Holiday Kit
Bramley’s Holiday Kit has everything you need for your upcoming trip (and the pouch is also very nice and discrete!)
Little B Kit
These aren’t easy to find for little ones, and I love the Little B range.
Each winner will choose between the 3 kits – either the Saltee, the Bramley Holiday Kit or the Little B children’s travel kit, depending on personal preference.
We thought it would be a lovely way to get you started on your upcoming trip.
How to enter this competition
I want to keep this very simple!
- Subscribe to my email newsletter (Sarah will also add you to her mailing list) – see below.
- Follow me on Facebook and Instagram. and like my most recent 5 posts.
- Follow Sarah on Instagram and like her most recent 5 posts.
- Please like and comment on these posts on Instagram and Facebook (either!). We have a question for you: which destination from the ones above is calling your name and why do you really want to go?
View this post on Instagram
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Winners will be selected randomly and announced on Friday 14th January 2022. Winners will be contacted by email.
If you are inspired by any of these hotels and would like to enquire about any of the hotels (or anywhere else in the world), do get in touch with Sarah (you can see her business profile here). Feel free to email Sarah or say hello via Instagram.
Here’s to another 10!